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MPs Overwhelmingly Back Niwagaba To Table Opposition Electoral Reforms

Members of Parliament have overwhelmingly supported the motion by Wilfred Niwagaba, Shadow Attorney General to Table Constitutional Amendment Bill that caters for proposed electoral reforms from the opposition.

During the debate on the motion to grant Niwagaba (in featured photo) leave today, both MPs from the ruling NRM party and Opposition seconded the motion with Ssemujju Nganda (Kira Municipality) asking the Minister of Finance, Matia  Kasaija to use the  same efficiency as he used to prepare certificate of financial implications for Raphael Magyezi president age limit bill and grant Niwagaba the same help.

Fort Fortal Municipality’s Alex Ruhinda asked fellow NRM MPs to back Niwagaba, saying it will be critical to assure Ugandans that nothing done by opposition or NRM is wrong for the nation.

“We have the abilities to have an input in this bill that is why I have no worry and instill confidence that everything from opposition is bad,” he said.

Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah asked if there was anyone opposed to the motion, but no MP stood up prompting him to announce Niwagaba’s win comparing MPs to sculptures whose job is to perfect bills that come for scrutiny.

 “Bills are brought in all shapes but Parliament gives the final shape, that’s what we do never worry what shape the bill comes it, we will give it the shape it is in for the best interest of this country. Leave is granted, I direct department to render help needed and would like to thank you for your perseverance and patience,” he said.

Key in the proposed amendments is the creation of the position of Deputy President, who unlike the current provision in article 99 of the Constitution will be chosen by a candidate for president as a running-mate.

The Deputy President proposed will swallow up the Office of the Prime Minister and be the Leader of Government Business in Parliament and among others exercise all functions currently reserved for the Prime Minister.

 Presidential term limits are to be reinstated and restricted to two five year terms only, if clause 12 of the Bill sees the light of day.

Politicians seeking to be Ministers but are already Members of Parliament, will have their dreams doomed by the success of the Bill, which seeks to have Ministers appointed from amongst people possessing the qualification of MPs but not being MPs themselves.

Commissioners of the Electoral Commission who are currently 7, will, should the leave be granted and the Bill passed, be increased to nine.

Appointment of Commissioners and the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission will, according to the Bill, have to be done through a rigorous process involving the Judicial Service Commission and public vetting in what analysts see as borrowing from the practice in neighboring Kenya.

The Bill seeks to secure the tenure of the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, by making their occupancy for five years renewable only once.

The Leader of the Opposition is now proposed to be the leader of the opposition political party with the highest number of MPs in the House, and will be an ex-officio MP, as will be the case with the Attorney General and the Deputy.

Section (f) of the object seeks to “to remove representation of the army from Parliament,” a proposal the Opposition has been mooting for years.

The Parliamentary Commission will, if the Bill is passed, be appointed by the Parliamentary Commission, who will recommend nominees for appointment by the President, a role currently exercised by the Public Service Commission.

Speaker’s panel

The Speaker’s panel, consisting of three MPs chosen by the Speaker, will, in the absence of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, preside over the House.

Civil Servants seeking to join elective politics will no longer suffer the dilemma of choosing between their jobs or shelving their political dreams until retirement but now have to seek leave of absence and descend hard onto politics, with the option of returning to their positions after the polls.

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